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by Frances Park


Publishers Weekly

“My heart beats in two places” begins this tale of an eight-year-old Korean girl who moves to America with her parents. The authors (My Freedom Trip), inspired by events in the life of their older sister, trace young Jangmi’s last day at home-on the eve of monsoon season, filled with reluctant goodbyes-and her first day in her new country. “I didn’t want to go to America and make new friends. I didn’t want to leave my best friend, Kisuni,” Jangmi says. The narrative works in subtle parallels: a going-away party with family and friends (“Everybody ate and sang traditional Korean songs and celebrated in a sad way”) gives way to “a parade of neighbors… carrying plates of curious food” in her new American neighborhood; she leaves behind a willow tree in Korea to discover a maple in her yard in Massachusetts-and she makes a friend who “giggled-just like Kisuni!” Choi (Nim and the War Effort) effectively contrasts the landscapes and customs of the two cultures, including a Korean city skyline and a glorious array of foods at the farewell luncheon, as well as the row houses in Massachusetts and Jangmi’s first exposure to casseroles. The book nimbly charts the common anxieties of a child moving to a new place, from worries about making friends to the strangeness of new surroundings. Choi’s oil paintings, with their subdued, saturated colors and perspectives that emphasize Jangmi’s loneliness, create an effective backdrop for this resonant tale. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, Ages 4-8, Cultural Differences, Kindergarten, Preschool